Wednesday, 17 November 2010


I'm going to mention the "C" word now. Yes, the "C" word. Christmas. The great British high street would have you believe that it's been the season since October at least, but for my own part, I've only started to think about it with any seriousness over the past few days. 

Parties and Christmas go hand in hand; some small, yet some large and extravagant and all filled with too much rich food and drinks you wouldn't consider at any other time of the year (sweet sherry anyone?) I've always wanted to either host or attend a Masked Ball, dreaming of gorgeously decorated masks and elegant costumes. Masquerades, both public and private, were immensely popular affairs during the eighteenth century; parties of spectacle and excess and of sublime and ridiculous costumes.

Nowadays, masked balls are usually a Christmas event only, in the form of annual winter functions and charity galas. So, if you're lucky enough to be going along to one this year, you might just be in need of a little inspiration. Enter model-of-the moment Lara Stone (photographed for Vogue Paris' 90th Anniversary October issue) and the bonkers-but-brilliant Lady Gaga. 

(L) Lara Stone for Vogue Paris, October 2010 Issue. (R) Lady Gaga
at the Brit Awards, February 2010.
If your party calls for fancy dress, then vertiginous hair is one possibility as sported by Lara Stone and Lady Gaga, but if it's a little more of a restrained event then a stylish mask is the best nod to eighteenth century glamour (better to leave your Gaga-style meat dress and telephone hat at home). I came across Nottingham based mask-designer Samantha Peach the other day and have been happily browsing through her creations ever since. The following is a selection of my favourite designs which are more than a little eighteenth century inspired...

Plain Black Domino Mask
For minimal tastes, a classically shaped Domino style mask will have other party-goers wondering who the mysterious stranger in black is...

Silver Lace "Belle of the Ball" Mask
A plume of ostrich feathers could help you channel your inner Georgian trend-setter...

Marie Antoinette Venetian Mask
...while a touch of ivory Nottingham lace and beadwork might make you feel like royalty...

Oriental Venetian Mask, Limited Edition Design
Flame coloured silk in a simple shape will make you stand out from the crowd...

"Dorothy" Red Glitter Venetian Mask
...while a mix of red glitter and organza ribbon will cause scandalised whisperings about the scarlet woman...

Dr. Parnassus Mask
....and finally, if you enjoy a good conversation piece and a comedy nose, you could always opt for the father of all Venetian Carnevale masks...

My only wish is that I had a masquerade to go to!

For prices and more masks, go to Samantha Peach's website. All mask images courtesy of Samantha Peach, images of Lara Stone and Lady Gaga courtesy of


  1. Bonsoir Laura, I wish I had a ball to go to. I do like the Marie Antoinette Venetian one - I can picture the dress to go with it ;-) Hope you're having a good week, Love from London x

  2. HHL- Aren't they just?!

    Hello Mademoiselle, I also wish I had a posh ball to go to. Oh well, maybe I can get one anyway and strut around at home in it? I just can't decide which I like best! x

  3. Hi Laura,
    If I were invited to a masked ball, I'd love to wear the Silver Lace Bell of the Balle mask. It is totally me!
    When your package arrives in the mail, you will laugh. The little spoof on the pouff that I sent to you includes a lacy black mask!

  4. I wish I had one to go to also. You know how I am about costumes!
    It always seems like it's summer and then it's Christmas. I'm planning on decorating and listening to Carols early this year. Let the merriment begin!